FanNation, you sent a very clear message last week. I should stick to football. After getting thousands of views (which is staggering and humbling, thank you all for reading) for several weeks in a row, no one gave a crap about what I had to say about the tournament. And for good reason – I talked primarily out of my rectal orifice.
But hey, I can do that about football, too!
Inspired by a healthy serving of scotch, here is today’s crazy football theory: I don’t understand why NFL teams spend so much money on scouting, particularly at the quarterback position. You can tell everything you need to know about a passer by his name.
My jumping-off point for this is looking at last year’s draft. I felt that the teams who selected quarterbacks after the first round got it wrong. Trent Edwards was the best of the lot, and he was picked last. Jon Beck and Kevin Kolb were the worst, and Drew Stanton was pretty okay. Now we haven’t seen Drew play yet, but we know that Kevin and Jon didn’t look so good, and Edwards is already pretty much a starter. So I was right. How did I know that? Well, I looked at some scouting reports, but obviously the teams who actually invested money in the players did more research than I did. And I didn’t see these guys play at all. I just had gut feelings based on the first piece of information I got from the guys, that being their name.
How many Trents do you know in your personal life? How many recent NFL QBs named Trent can you think of? I assume the latter number was bigger. Trent Green, Dilfer, and Edwards come immediately to mind. One had the best season of any rookie passer in his class, one won a Super Bowl, and one worked hard to achieve a very respectable career. Trent is a very good quarterback name.
Brett is also a great QB name, though I can’t think of any besides the obvious. A list of QBs in the league tell me that there are two other Bretts, Basanez and Ratliff. Well, you can’t hit them all. But Brett just sounds like a quarterback.
Monosyllabic names with hard consonants seem to be the key. John and Drew are good, but not quite as strong as Jake, Vince, or Chad. Jay and Joe are also good - ending with a vowel sound is better than a soft consonant. Last name pairing is also important. The last name needs to be something epic. It can be something long and confusing like Roethlisberger or something stately (ha ha) like Montana. It needs to look awesome on a jersey. Drew Brown would not be a good quarterback (or Dan Brown for that matter).
If a first name’s going to have two syllables, God forbid it ends in a “y” sound. Brady, Brodie, Billy, Joey, Kerry – all terrible quarterback names. Terry is a bad name now, but times were different in the 70s, when Monty Python was fresh, and 33% Terry. Derek is pretty good, because of the hard consonants. Derrick, however, not so good – too many letters. And if you’re a Philip, Daniel, David, or Matthew, you’re much better off abbreviating to Phil, Dave, Dan, or Matt.
Using initials doesn’t seem to go too well. There’s currently a J.P, a D.J., a J.T., and an A.J. in the NFL, and the best of them, J.P. just lost his starting position to a Trent.
Last names as first names is a great idea. Carson, Donovan, and Peyton are, actually, among the best QB names out there.
So, looking ahead to the upcoming draft, who’s going to be great, and who’s going to be a waste of a pick? Here’s what the names say:
Matt Ryan – Matt is a solid QB name, not great, but good enough. Ryan isn’t a great last name, though (and it’s a cursed first name). I’d expect Ryan to be a mid-tier starting quarterback for six-seven years; worthy of maybe the 20th-32nd pick.
Joe Flacco – The best in the draft. Flacco is a great last name, and it pairs with Joe perfectly. This is the sort of name that unifies a fan base, wins a Bowl or two, and hangs in the rafters for a long time. If he was drafted 1st, it would be looked at in retrospect as a wise decision.
Brian Brohm – Brian’s a pretty weak QB name; the two-syllable thing is bad, and ending on N isn’t good. Brohm redeems it a little, but not enough. He’ll get a couple of shots at starting gigs, lose them, and eventually resign himself to being a career backup.
Chad Henne – One of the better names this year. Chad is solid, and Henne sounds good with it, though it’s a little weak. I could see Henne making a couple of Pro Bowls, and maybe playing in a Super Bowl. Worthy of a 8th-15th pick.
John David Booty – Three names = killer. And I mean killer in the bad way. And one of them means derriere. And for that matter, another means toilet. This guy might never win an NFL game; teams shouldn’t use anything higher than a 6th-rounder on him.
Bernard Morris – Ugh. Bernard? Bernie wouldn’t be much better, but it’s a start. His only hope is if people start calling him Burn Morris. As it stands, we’re looking at a few years as a third-stringer, and an early retirement. Invite him to camp, but don’t draft him.
Andre Woodson – Woodson’s pretty good, but Andre’s mediocre. To be a good QB name, Andre would have to be paired up with a one-syllable last name, like Andre Green. I’ll give this name a couple of good years before getting passed up for a younger arm, worthy of a late second-rounder.
Colt Brennan – Probably the second-best name in the draft. Just flows off the tongue, and the hard consonants as well as the uniqueness give Colt all the power of a Trent but maybe even more so. And there’s nothing to dislike about Brennan. He’ll probably win a Super Bowl, and be worthy of a top-5 pick.
Erik Ainge – good call, Mr. and Mrs. Ainge, on the Eric-with-a-K. Somehow a C is less quarterback-y. Ainge is a good enough last name, it’s fun to say at least. Aaayynj. This guy will probably take a while to come into his own, but eventually make a Pro Bowl, and should be drafted early in the second.
Josh Johnson – Johnson’s a little non-descript, and totally ruins the good-name potential of Josh by having all of the same letters. This guy will show flashes of talent, but never amount to anything… maybe worth a 5th round selection.
T.C. Ostrander – there’s the double-initials thing. Ostrander is on a level with Roethlisberger as a last name, though… but Ben’s a very good name, and T.C. is not. The peak of a career named T.C. Ostrander’s would have to be saving the season by coming in as a backup and winning enough games to keep them in the playoffs. Maybe a 4th-rounder, more likely 5th.
Sam Keller – In the 1950s, this would be a pretty great name, but times change. A name like Sam Keller should be doing the play-by-play for the local radio station. And maybe he will after a four-year stint as a serviceable backup. 5th-6th-rounder, please.
Dennis Dixon – Also seems a little outdated; except this should be the name of an ex-quarterback who took the coaching route. Dennis Dixon, promoted to interim head coach of the San Diego Chargers. Except Dennis Dixon was never a great name for a passer, so we’ll say he should go undrafted and impress somebody in camp enough to keep him on the practice squad for about 5 years until the coaching career begins.
Anthony Morelli – Tony is one two-syllable name that can work for a QB, because it keeps it to two letters apiece. But this guy seems to prefer Anthony, which will kill his career. 7th round pick, two years as a third-stringer, then cut.
Matt Flynn – Doesn’t have the uniqueness of a firsty-firsty like Matt Ryan, but ultimately, it’s a better last name pairing, and after flying under the radar for maybe four years, he’ll prove to be the better QB. Early second-round pick.
All right, now just to clarify, these statements had nothing to do with the player, his history, or anything like that. And I’m aware that this is complete BS (no offense, BS), and has no basis in anything. In fact, why the heck did I write this? Oh yes, the scotch. I should finish that.